The fourth thing Kitty Hawk did after taking over the Museum of Modern Terrible Dead Art (Or MoMTDA, pronounced “Mom: Ta-DAA!”) was lawyer up, which she viewed like putting on your seatbelt or locking your front door at night. You may recall that the third thing she did was locate the Time Sheath, but that’s a whole other story for a whole other time, and also I forgot to tell you about the second thing she did, part of it at least.
Fundraising! Funds are low; raise them. Lift those funds like Simba, and show ’em to Jesus. Gotta raise them funds up.
Kitty had never fundraised before; she liked the idea, though: just asking for the money. She had traded goods and services for money; scammed people out of it; absconded with it. She had flat-out stolen quite a bit of cash. Asking for it was a whole new angle for her, but she got her head around it in a day or so. Kitty Hawk was born for the Ask.
Because she understood there was no asking involved: you were still selling something, it just didn’t technically exist. Not a widget, in other words. There was legacy, and Kitty wished every rich Deadhead wanted legacy; she had a deal going with a plaque engraver in Little Aleppo, and would gladly slap your name on whatever you could afford. (Except for the parking lot: she titled that the Patrick J. Leahy Parking Structure, and she did it for free. Never hurts to kiss a Senator’s ass.)
Legacy was easy, but it turned into ego, and ego was a pain in the ass but had more money. Unfortunately, there were only so many main galleries in MoMTDA to sell the naming rights to. She floated a trial balloon about leasing the rights to a different rich guy each year, but it don’t go over well: people with the money to buy main galleries want to buy them for good, and bolt their full names in blocky, san-serif, metal letters to the wall, and giant, old-fashioned oil portraits of their mutant families.
Kitty briefly considered selling the main gallery to four or five people, but that would require fleeing town (which was always an option) or engaging in some sort of wacky farce on the occasion that two of them showed up at once. It was the short, dumb money; she started a bidding war between a tech bro and a weed millionaire by accidentally forwarding one the other’s offer, and then accidentally doing it five or six more times until the price was high enough.
The real nightmares were the ones who wanted access. Oh, God, they wanted to be treated like family. Important and valued and listened to, but mostly they wanted a picture with the band. Kitty underplayed the fact that the Dead and MoMTDA were loosely connected at best, and legally not at all. In fact, she underplayed it so well that she would generally say the exact opposite thing; sometimes she would claim that Bobby had just left her office.
The access guys, though: they had cash–though not as much as the legacy or ego-driven donators–and unlike the high-spenders, they were amenable to being part of groups. Rich guys demanded time-consuming one-on-ones, but your lesser strata contributor would congregate. This gave Kitty a chance.
“We need Grateful Deads. How do we get them here to be nice to our beloved patrons?”
“I don’t want to.”
“It would be much easier if you did.”
“You could give Bobby an award. He’s on his victory lap.”
“Call the plaque guy, then call Matt Busch. Tell Busch there’s a grand in it for him if Bobby shows up, no one has to know.”
“Invent award, bribe roadie. Check.”
“Drums are art, right?”
“Sounds good to me, ma’am.”
“300 patrons at a grand apiece? And we engrave their names on something.”
“We should renegotiate our deal with the plaque guy.”
“Maybe bring him in-house. Great: call Mickey, tell him it’s a lecture or a whatever.”
“Hire plaque guy, lie to drummer. Check.”
“What abut Billy?”
“You have to pay him, ma’am.”
“What if we–”
“No, you have to pay him.”
“But how about–”
“No, you have to pay him.”
“Let’s move on. Phil?”
“Maybe a charity deal.”
“A real one?”
“He would probably check.”
“Pass. What about Garcia?”
“Jerry Garcia? He’s dead, ma’am.”
And that conversation leads into the story that I mentioned about Kitty Hawk and the Time Sheath, but it’s for another time.